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Dedicated pensioner commended

PUBLISHED: 17:17 31 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 24 August 2010

A PENSIONER has been commended for her 60 years of service at a charity which funds ambulances in Israel. Lydia Callender, 84, of Sidmouth Road, Brondesbury Park was celebrated at a reception last month for her work as one of the founders of Magen Davi

A PENSIONER has been commended for her 60 years of service at a charity which funds ambulances in Israel.

Lydia Callender, 84, of Sidmouth Road, Brondesbury Park was celebrated at a reception last month for her work as one of the founders of Magen David Adom UK (MDA).

The charity raises money to help its Israeli branch buy ambulances, set up first aid casualty units and blood banks in Israel.

Mrs Callender, a grandmother of seven, helped set up the Friends of Magen David Adom when she was 24-years-old in 1948 - the year that Israel was founded.

"The object was to make people in this country aware of what was happening in Israel," she said.

"We were raising money in this country to support the activities of MDA in Israel.

"The first shipment of ambulances to Israel was in the form of lorries. It was a very moving moment."

Mrs Callender visited Israel for the first time in 1950, when it was only two-years-old.

"I was the first from the organisation to visit the country in 1950 and saw what was going on and what they didn't have," she said.

"There were very few ambulances, no real casualty stations - they were just huts. It was pathetic and I was determined to organise something for them."

When she returned home, she realised she had a lot of work to do to provide the country with what it needed.

"We organised 48 dinner and balls between 1950 and 1990 and that helped us provide ambulances and fund first aid casualty stations and blood banks," she said. "They don't do dinner and dances any more but they're still raising a phenomenal amount.

"Now they are doing a fantastic job. We raised hundreds whereas they raise thousands and are supplying hundreds of ambulances."

At the reception, Mrs Callender's huge contribution was recognised by Stuart Glyn, chairman of Magen David Adom UK.

"It was an honour to pay tribute to Lydia, who has given so much to ensure Magen David Adom continues to save more lives in Israel," he said.

Mrs Callender added: "MDA has taken up most of my life. I can't remember doing anything else. I'm incredibly proud of the work that they do and it's so important.

"Israel always meant a lot to me and I've always been a Zionist. I helped put MDA on the map and from small beginnings, it is now a hugely successful organisation.


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